Numlock News: July 27, 2023 • Elderberries, Monster Hunter, Patek Philippe
By Walt Hickey
Pricey luxury fruit is a big business in Japan, and Yamagata prefecture is out with a new variety, the Benio, that is the result of 20 years of research and breeding to make an optimal flesh-to-seed ratio. They're selling for 8,300 yen ($60) per kilogram at market but then over $80 for a small bucket at retail in Tokyo. Yamagata is responsible for producing 12,000 tons of cherries, roughly 75 percent of the annual harvest, and the premium cherries provide crucial income to the small farmers who make up the backbone of the business.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has for the first time displayed new paintings of him doing inspirational leader things, like getting out of a muddy Lexus and saying hello to some farmers, or riding a horse on a mountain. The reveal of at least eight new paintings is a development because after a decade in power, Kim had not yet done as his predecessors did, and push a dedicated campaign of this kind of art in order to cultivate a direct, personal following. His grandfather, Kim Il Sung, started displaying portraits very early in his rule, and his father, Kim Jong Il, approved them almost immediately after becoming leader. The new batch of paintings follows orders for three tile mosaic murals last fall.
The game publisher Capcom has been on a decade-long tear, with its stock up by a third this year to date, a precipitous rise that makes the company worth 1,207.7 percent of what it was a decade ago. That's fueled by games like Resident Evil and the extremely popular Monster Hunter. The company is unique in that most of its sales come from older games rather than games released in the past year, with 70.3 percent of its sales last year— 29.3 million units out of 41.7 million sold — coming from games that are older than a year, thanks to the company's strategy of converting hits on older consoles to digital downloads for PC.
Luxury watches from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet have been more expensive on secondary markets than they are at retail following a boomlet in interest in fancy watches spurred in no small part by the pandemic. According to data from WatchCharts, relief is on the way for buyers, as supply is staying pretty high at the same time that demand is declining. Looking at Rolex, 72 percent of the secondhand watch models tracked — 89 different Rolex models— are still selling on secondary markets for more than they cost at retail, but that's down from 112 different models selling for above retail in February.
The supply chain problems that made it really hard to get a car in America have begun to subside, as U.S. car dealers have 53 days’ worth of inventory on their lots as of June, up 39 percent year over year. This has the nice effect of more and more cars actually selling for the price they're listed at rather than a hiked up price because of low supply: AutoNation reported that it's selling 40 percent of its cars at MSRP, down from 45 percent the previous quarter. The average monthly payment for a new car is still eye-wateringly high, averaging $736, up from $686 last June and well above the $535 per month it was going for the same month five years ago.
Native to the Midwest, elderberries have only been grown commercially for two decades, but are catching on in retail and have grown to become a $320 million per year business. They're particularly popular in dietary supplements owing to some popular vitamins in them and a reputation for reducing cold and flu symptoms. Demand is projected to increase by 30 percent through the end of the decade. Besides just adding “antioxidants” to nutritional dust, they’re also found in jams, spreads, and beer and wine, with a nice tart taste.
The federal government wants to increase the number of public charging stations for electric vehicles by a lot, from 130,000 today to eventually 500,000, buoyed by $5 billion in funding. An ideal partner for installing charging infrastructure has available parking, lots of locations, and convenient placement within communities, which is one reason that fast food restaurateurs are increasingly interested in adding chargers to their lots. Subway, the sandwich chain with 20,000 locations, partnered with GenZ EV Solutions to add chargers that can provide a 120-mile charge for $20 in under 20 minutes. A Taco Bell and Arby's franchisee with 300 locations is doing the same in California, and Starbucks is experimenting with DC fast chargers at some locations.
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